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A host of happy Gilchrist County 4-H Club members attended the Annual 4-H

Awards Banquet on Thursday, August 19th. This year’s banquet was held at the Suwannee River Fair Barn in Fanning Springs.
Emily Pedersen, Gilchrist County 4-H County Council President, welcomed fellow 4-H members and their families to the event. Pedersen said, “Tonight is a celebration of all the accomplishments of 4-H members for this past year from all over Gilchrist County. This year was unlike any other, we have faced challenges and changes like we never have seen before, and learned to accomplish our goals in new ways.”
Jessica Cooper, the 4-H County Agent, took a moment to remember two special people who impacted county 4-H members. Leslie Faison, who was a longtime county council advisor, club leader, and a gentleman who spent his lifetime giving back to an organization that he grew up in. Faison was the son of longtime 4-H director Elaine Faison. They also honored Cris Siegel who lost her battle with cancer this year. Cris Siegel was a longtime 4-H parent, club leader and a advocate for children in our community. Cooper said, “Let their lives be an inspiration to all of us, these two were such caring and giving souls.”
One of the big highlights at any 4-H Banquet is the recognition of the annual Friend of 4-H. This is the highest honor paid to an individual in the community for their service to 4-H. This year’s Friend to 4-H is Marti Smith. Lainey Blair who announced the award said, “This amazing lady, deserves to be recognized. She works tirelessly all through the year to ensure that we have an organized and well run fair (The Suwannee River Livestock Show and Fair), along with the directors and superintendents. She keeps up with all the bookkeeping, secures sponsors, orders awards, coordinates judges contracts, deals with the venue rentals and event management, and she helps to keep everything running smoothly. Without her dedicated service the fair simply would not be what it is today.” Blair went on to say, “We are so grateful for her willingness to help 4-H and her consistency, positivity and thoughtfulness along the way.”
A few years ago Florida 4-H started an award to recognize achievement in 4-H. This year’s Standards of Excellence are Cloverbuds Anisten Blair, Thayne Timmons and Christian Fussell. Junior Standards of Excellence winner Raya Timmons and Senior winners Jonathan Fussell and Alaina Blair.
The Helping Hands 4-H Club was recognized for the Bell Library beautification project.
The 13 county 4-H clubs and their leaders were recognized. Then the Cloverbuds were recognized. Afterward each 4-H’er who participated this year were recognized for their efforts at the fair, on a judging team, or record books.
Special awards were given out by Mrs. Cooper. She presented the Head Award to Cayce Sullivan, the Heart Award to Madison Lane, the Hands award to Bryden Smith and the Health Award to Alaina Blair.
Outstanding 4-H’er Awards are a great honor each year. This years Outstanding 4-H’ers in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior groups are Hayden Henderson, Adysen Burns, and Emily Pedersen.
Graduating seniors are Jonathan Fussell, Emily Pedersen, Trent Steedley and Jonathan Green. Each qualifying 4-H senior received a scholarship.
Outgoing County Council President Emily Pedersen gave a very heart felt speech near the end of the banquet. Emily said, “I never thought that 4-H would mean so much to me.”
“It’s not about the trophies, or the ribbons. It not about who had the cleanest cabin at camp or even who had the best scarecrow. However, it’s about who you experience these moments with. Your fellow officers, your 4-H club, the littlest 4-H’ers who look up to you. Your judging team, your friends, and your family,” Emily said.
She went on to sum up how fast her senior year had passed and cautioned this year’s seniors to make the most of their last year in 4-H.
The banquet ended with the newly elected County Council members ceremony. The new officers are President Dalton Coleman, Vice President Alaina Blair, Secretary Alaura Brown, Treasurer Zoe Marin, Reporter Aubrie Blair, Sergeant at Arms Joyce Teague, Recreational Leader Mia Marin and Parliamentarian Dexton Coleman.